The Mystery in the Box

I was just looking in my neighbor’s yard. There is a large wooden crate behind his deck that hasn’t been touched in the last 6 months. As far as I can tell, it is there to stay. This got me thinking about people’s belief in god.

If my neighbor told me that inside his crate was $1 billion, I would probably call him crazy. But if he told me that I could have the $1 billion, he might pique my interest for a moment. I’d want to see some sort of proof or obtain some form of collateral, but he would have my attention. Here’s the bombshell: he tells me that to obtain the treasure, I would have to spend an indeterminate amount of time cleaning his house, mowing his lawn, doing other various chores, and finally giving him 10% of my annual income.

Well, screw that. Sure he lets me play basketball on his nice court, gives me a meal once in a while, and takes me on his annual ski trip with his family, but I’d still want some sort of evidence that the $1 billion actually existed before I donated vast amounts of my time and resources to obtaining it.

I know this isn’t a direct parallel to the god belief that so many among us hold, especially considering that the rewards of most modern religions don’t come until after death (if at all). Add in to that the uncertainty of whether our actions are predetermined or based on free will, and you have an even stickier situation which should give more people pause before devoting their livelihoods to the religion of their choice. Unfortunately, it does not.

People, for the most part, tend to carry on the beliefs of their ancestors and hold them dear without ever taking a moment to question them (After all, questioning those beliefs is a sin in itself.) What does it take to actually get someone with such a deeply internalized belief to question it? A traumatic experience? A trip to rock bottom? Too often, these events further entrench beliefs rather than diminish them.

I guess atheists need to start having a ton of babies.

Church Garbage In My Mailbox

So a church wants to spend its hard-earned begged-for money on a mass untargeted mailing. That’s fine. I won’t complain. I get more things from Dish Network every week than I do from churches. I do feel sorry for the fools that contribute every week so that poor business decisions can be carried out in the name of the lawd.

I opened up this edition of House to House, Heart to Heart brought to me by my local Church of Christ. Nothing in particular stood out as particularly worthy of my time to read, even if just to lampoon it. A few of the articles were “I Want to Look Upon His Face,” “If God Should Go On Strike,” and “Hast Thou Considered My Servant Job?” The only one that really caught my attention was on the back page, one of the pages reserved for use by the local church (whereas all of the other material is produced by the national organization). This selection is titled, “Caged” and was written by Roger Campbell of Cleveland, Tennessee. I present it now for your review.

A boy with a rusty birdcage walked by a preacher.
“What are you going to do with that bird?” asked the preacher.
“Oh, I’m just going to pike sticks at it, shake the cage, throw water on it… fun things like that.”
“What are you going to do after that?”
“I don’t know; probably just feed it to the cats.”
“How much do you want for it?” asked the preacher.
“Aw, you don’t want it; it’s just an old field bird. It doesn’t sing or nothin’.”
“How much?”
The boy thought awhile, and then said, “Two dollars.” The preacher paid it. The boy grinned, and pocketed his money. Then he watched to see what the preacher would do with the bird. The preacher just opened the cage and turned it loose. The boy walked away, shaking his head over the craziness of some people.
The minister had something else in mind. Sin has “caged” each one of us and Satan has mankind in his grasp. Jesus asks, “What are you going to do with them?”
“I’m just going to have fun with them. I’m going to tease them. I’m going to bring heartache and pain into their lives.”
“And after that?”
“Well, when I get tired, I will take them to eternal destruction.”
“I will buy them,” says Jesus.
“You couldn’t possibly want them! They will despise You, use Your name in vain and reject You. Then they will kill You.”
“I will give my life.”
Jesus paid the price, and set us free (Ephesians 1:7). Won’t you accept His offer on His terms?

The first thing I thought while reading this, other than that this is a horrible comparison to make, is that “sin” only has man shackled because churches say we are. Sin is an invention of churches who just so happen to be selling the cure. Other than that I have can never understand how people think Jesus made a sacrifice. Jesus is the son of an omniscient god who knew that he would be martyred. It’s hardly a sacrifice if you know you’re whole life that that is your destiny. Also, I don’t see how the act of one deranged wanderer in Palestine two thousand years ago has any impact on my life today.

Of course, believing to your core in the divinity of this Jesus character helps the rest of these delusions fall right into place. The rest of us can only shake our heads at the illusions people surround themselves with.

Update: I posted on Twitter a couple of weeks ago about a “Do Not Knock” registry. While there won’t be a registry, and unfortunately no one in this country would legislate that religious organizations would have to comply, there will be a site coming soon that will have stickers/magnets for sale that will show religious solicitors that your home is a waste of their time. Stay tuned for more details.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor is Dead Wrong!

A holy man saying that atheism is a greater evil that sin? Surely not.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former Archbishop of Westminster, at the installation ceremony of his successor, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, commented that he believed that lack of faith was responsible for war and destruction.

On the contrary Cardinal, I believe faith has been the driving force behind much of the human-caused destruction throughout Earth’s history. The fall of the World Trade Center, the 7/7 London bombings, the unrest in Gaza, and the mounting threat of Iran are just a few modern examples of faith-based initiatives.
A quote from Archbishop Nichols’ homily was referenced by Ruth Gledhill in her article at the TimesOnline blogs.

“Faith in God is not, as some would portray it today, a narrowing of the human mind or spirit. It is precisely the opposite. Faith in God is the gift that takes us beyond our limited self, with all its incessant demands….Some today propose that faith and reason are crudely opposed, with the fervour of faith replacing good reason. This reduction of both faith and reason inhibits not only our search for truth but also the possibility of real dialogue.”

Faith IS a narrowing of the human mind. It enigmatically trumps all desires for proof and evidence that are rightfully wanted. Demoting humans to beings with “limited selves” and “incessant demands” is the only way you can even suggest that faith has a place in day to day life. The curiosity and “demands” of humans are what brought us out of caves and gave us fire. These same urges gave us the automobile and space travel. Faith has given us nothing except certainty where there is none. Certainty which some people are willing to kill and die for.
Back to our friend, Cardy Cormac. He further commented that:

“But what is most crucial is the prayer that we express every day in the Our Father, when we say, deliver us from evil. The evil we ask to be delivered from is not essentially the evil of sin, though that is clear, but in the mind of Jesus, it is more importantly a loss of faith. For Jesus, the inability to believe in God and to live by faith is the greatest of evils.”

“You see the things that result from this are an affront to human dignity, destruction of trust between peoples, the rule of egoism and the loss of peace. One can never have true justice, true peace, if God becomes meaningless to people.”

“The inability to believe in God and to live by faith is the greatest of evils”? First of all, who said that I am unable to believe in God? It’s not that I am incapable of such a belief; I just do not have any need or desire to attribute the unknown and known to the unknown. While science and observation may not be able to provide answers to all of life’s most pressing questions at the moment, it would be an affront to reason to cast our hands into the air and proclaim that “God did it!”.

As for his last quote, I can’t possibly understand how he thinks that secularism has resulted in the “destruction of trust between peoples.” Differing faiths has been the driving force for conquest and destruction through so much of history including the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the modern battle with fundamentalist Muslims.

Quite the opposite of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, I believe that when God becomes meaningless to people, we will have our first real shot at true peace and justice.

For a  great read on the the reasons that faith is damaging our ability to live peacefully, check out Sam Harris’ The End of Faith.

An Oldie But A Goodie: The God Warrior

I guess I first saw this about 5 years ago. It’s still as amusing/horrifying as the first time I viewed it. Not only has this cow completely surrendered her life to religious ignorance, but she seems to have an awfully hard time pronouncing some of the evils that she so fervently scorns.

How far into the video did you make it before you got angry?